Rejection is a part of life. No matter where you go or what you do, at some point you will be rejected. It’s painful and it sucks, but it is something we learn and grow from.
Now as a writer, rejection is something that you become intimately familiar with. Trust me, I know this to be true. I started writing as a kid and when I joined a writer’s workshop, I was immediately forewarned that when you begin to submit your work, you will receive rejections. Not just a few, but you will have enough to paper a whole room. Boy, were they WRONG!!!! I’ve received enough rejections to paper a house. Maybe two houses even. Thankfully everything is digital now and I don’t have to print out my rejections.
Every literary great faced rejection. It took Jane Austen approximately sixteen years to get “Pride and Prejudice” published. Louisa May Alcott was told to “stick to her teaching.” Charlotte Bronte couldn’t get “The Professor” published in her lifetime, despite that fact that she eventually wrote the best-selling “Jane Eyre.” Beatrix Potter had to self-publish “Peter Rabbit” because no one would touch it.
There are different kinds of rejections too. There is the form rejection, where they more or less say “it’s not you, it’s me.” There is the “this story has potential” rejection, which feels like a demoralizing pat on the head, but it can be useful (it’s a challenge to completely revamp your work). There is the “ritual hazing” rejection, where you do receive actual feedback from an editor or an agent. This kind of rejection, though probably truthful and for the best, will destroy little pieces of your soul. You’ll find yourself torn between huddling in the corner, sucking your thumb (reevaluating how you make life decisions), and throwing violent temper tantrums.
Then there are those rare, awe-inspiring rejections. The ones that confirm what you hope, that your project is worth something. That maybe, just maybe, if it falls into the right hands, your dream of publishing this piece will become a reality. These are the kind of rejections that have been known to cheer me up on a bad day. It’s not a yes, it’s not even a revise and resubmit, but this person has taken the time and effort and thinks you’re on the right track. They’re not the right editor/publisher/agent for this WIP, but they encourage you anyway.
I received one of these awe-inspiring rejections recently and it did my heart a little good. So, I’m going to keep trying and hope that you do too!